Medieval Reactions to the Encounter Between Faith and Reason

Marquette University Press (1995) | English | ISBN 0874621623 | 127 pages | PDF | 1.32 MB

The annual St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture Series began at Marquette University in the Spring of 1937. Ideal for classroom use, library additions, or private collections, the Aquinas Series has received international acceptance by scholars, universities, and libraries.

[Excerpt from this volume] The distinction between faith and reason was not an original discovery on the part of the thirteenth century, of course. It is already present in some of the Fathers of the Church, especially so in St. Augustine. While Augustine was interested in constructing what might best called a Christian wisdom rather than any kind of separate philosophy, he was quite familiar with and well versed in philosophical thinking, especially in Neoplatonism. For his appreciation of the distinction between understanding or proving something on purely rational or philosophical grounds and believing it on divine authority, one may turn to Bk II of his De libero arbitrio. There, in attempting to buttress the claim that God gave free will to human beings, he raises the issue of God’s existence. Augustine is not content to let his partner in this dialogue, Evodius, accept God’s existence solely on the grounds of religious belief. In fact, in the course of Bk II, Augustine gradually works out one of the strongest and lengthiest versions of an argument for God’s existence based on eternal truths that the Western world would ever see. At the conclusion of this argument Augustine maintains that he and his dialogue partner now accept God’s existence as true not only by faith, but by a sure if somewhat tenuous form of reasoning.

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